When the pandemic hit in mid-March, Feeding San Diego partnered with a number of school districts and Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) was one of them. Since then, CVUSD has distributed bagged produce and dry good items provided by Feeding San Diego at three school sites every Friday from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. These items supplement the prepared meals offered at each site location by CVUSD Monday to Friday. At the conclusion of the Friday meal service, each household receives a bag of items to take home.

Chase Avenue Elementary School is one of the three schools we work with and Barbara Austin is a volunteer at the distribution. Recently she shared:

I have been coordinating the volunteers who help package and distribute the Feeding San Diego food bags at Chase Avenue Elementary School in Cajon Valley since our schools were closed down on March 13.  First off, let me say a huge thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all your organization does to help off-set hunger all the time, but especially the way you have come through in this time of need.

We have a large number of refugee families in our community who struggle to navigate the system in the best of times. Early on, I had one man in tears because he arrived after we had run out of food. At that point, we were still distributing daily, so I encouraged him to come at 11 AM the next morning. I won’t even pretend to know what it is like to have a family of 6-10, living in a 2 bedroom apartment that costs most of my monthly stipend, and not knowing how to access SNAP or other resources. Feeding San Diego fills a huge void for families like this. I am honored to have a small role in this.

Packing the food you deliver every week has been at once humbling and fulfilling. I have developed a new appreciation for the grocery store workers who stock the shelves and produce aisles, and now leave thank you notes out for my farm box delivery man. Your team at the warehouse does an amazing job getting all this food organized for delivery, so we can bag and distribute it to our families. 

Every Friday, I look forward to seeing what is being delivered, organizing the best order to fill the bags, calculating how much of each item goes in a bag, and then putting my team to work. We start unpacking and organizing whenever the truck arrives, and by 10 AM, we are going full steam. Distribution starts at 11 AM. Initially, we had enough food for about 200 families, and we would be done distributing by noon. As word has spread, families start lining up on the street at around 10 AM. Even last week, when we had 250 bags, we were out by 12:20 PM. This week, I believe, we will have food for 300. I am hoping we are getting closer to meeting everyone’s needs.   

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Thank you, Barbara, for your kind words and for devoting your time to helping those in need. Our work is made possible thanks to people like you.